The tennis team has a new coach this year; in August, Craig Kirchgessner replaced former coach Harold Henderson, who retired last season. Kirchgessner was previously an assistant coach atCentre College in Kentucky and has coached college tennis for three years. This is his first head coaching position. Kirchgessner has changes in mind for the cultural perspective of the tennisteam—academics should be number one—but he is also excited to see the athletes’ commitment to tennis strengthen.
“I would like to be top four on both sides, create a family environment where they walk awayfeeling accomplished. Strive for happiness; happiness comes from long-term dedication forsomething. If we are striving for a goal every day, I want them to look back and be happy aboutwhat they did.” Kirchgessner said.
Senior Sarah Glass played under Coach Henderson for her first three years and feels that the new coach has brought in needed change. “It is nice to see a transition of us picking up our game more, focusing on our tennis fundamentals, and being the best that we can be as a team. It had been hard by the end of my junior year not winning very many, if any matches at all. There is some frustration in us not being able to do our best when we knew that we could and wanting to be pushed even more.” Glass said. “He is pushing for practices that are more intense, more dynamic, and a lot of drills. I expect him to be a leader for our team.”
The new swimming and diving coach Tony Marleneanu had his first official practice with the team on Wednesday, September 19. Team captains Lyle Alford and Journey Eubank, along with a leadership team, had been without a head coach since July. “Freshmen were coming in, expecting to have Marty, and not really knowing what to do,”
Eubank said. “It was nerve-wracking not knowing what was going to come next, but coach Weever was clear that she was looking for someone who, in the long term, was going to better the program. We weren’t going to do a knee jerk reaction and just hire whoever was available. With that in mind, I was okay with the shuffle.” Alford has previous experience with Coach Marleneanu; he swam with him at AquaKids this
past summer. He’s excited to see what the coach will bring. “His goals are very clear; they are within our reach. I think that he is going to push this team to be faster while also understanding that it is still Hendrix. When I swam with him in AquaKids, the sets were very challenging and fun. I got faster this summer, so I am very excited to see what the team is going to do this year. He is going to be a very positive influence on the team.” Alford said.
Marleneanu was already connected to Hendrix through AquaKids. Whenever the coaching position was available, he followed his goal to become a college coach and applied. “There is a very talented team; I am happy with what I found here. I am ready to take the program to the next level. In three to four years, we are trying to get someone to qualify for NCAA nationals. I would like to see team unity for this year, a positive attitude, and [for the team to] place better at conference. I am very excited to see how they respond to the practices and how much we can improve this season,” Marleneanu said.
The golf team also has a new coach, Andrew Thames. Thames was an assistant baseball coach for five years, but golf has always been his passion.
“This season, I want to see [the team] break the school record. In our first tournament, we were three shots off the record. For the women, I want them to compete at the highest level they can,” Thames said. “They have all showed great growth in practice, but for both programs, I want them to have a successful season, something they can look back on at the end of the year and be happy about. The expectations are to hold yourself to a higher standard not only on the golf course but in the classroom, in the community. I just want to see them succeed.”
Junior Emelia Dennis enjoys working with Coach Thames. “It’s been a change. It has gotten more geared towards improving upon your own game instead of the overall. We do a lot more drills and we work in areas so continuously playing which is really nice.”
Sophomore Ben Brezette brings up individual and team goals that he hopes Coach Thames will help accomplish. “I think he is going to bring a lot to the team. He’s doing morning workouts and more individualized practice,” Brezette said. “I believe he really wants to improve the team, and he is doing all he can to do that.”
Photo by Alice Fan